It seems important to me that fiction should be well typeset to make an easy read. It’s a bit like camera work on the television, if you are aware of the camera and it distracts you from the story, then it isn’t good camera work. Similarly, if you aware of the type design and it gets in the way of the reading and enjoyment of the book and doesn’t enhance the experience, then it isn’t good typography. Both the designer and the cameraman/woman should be invisible.
What prompted me to write this entry was, unfortunately, a bad example of typesetting from an author who was self-publishing. I bought the book from the internet so wasn’t able to look inside before purchase. It was a good story and the kids enjoyed it but it was uncomfortable to read due to the rivers of word-spacing, widows and orphans, and indentation where there should be none. Okay, so I’m probably more picky than most (am I?), and I did offer my services at a very low price, but not low enough as I was turned down perhaps because typesetting isn’t always a valued skill among those who write, or maybe the low price was too high – but I’ve got mouths to feed too! Sadly, although the story was good I will think twice about buying more self-published titles from this author.
Curiously, just after I’d written this draft a quote came up on the WordPress website:
The best style is the style you don’t notice – Somerset Maugham